From education to employment

The hidden value in compliance and the apprenticeship experience

Across industries, businesses feel the burden of compliance. Within apprenticeships, the ESFA draft apprenticeship funding rules for 2022/23 have prompted much discussion.  Alongside this, recent government data has once again highlighted the persistent challenge to improve apprenticeship retention rates.

For many apprenticeship training providers, finding a way to meet these challenges, whilst simultaneously delivering apprenticeships that provide the impactful experiences apprentices and employers expect, can create conflicting pressures.

In the ‘age of the customer’, where experiences matter, many internal compliance processes and documentation are based on what works for the provider rather than the needs of the apprentice or employer, or where significant action is required on their part.

With limited other grounds for effective differentiation against competing providers, if approached in the right way and with the right tools and techniques, organisations can incorporate compliance without hindering a high-quality apprenticeship experience.

Three steps to deliver both compliance and customer experience

  1. A collaborative approach

Too often, providers approach compliance and apprenticeship delivery from different viewpoints.  This siloed approach means that compliance can often conflict with high-quality journeys for apprentices and employer alike.  Transformation is a team effort and the starting point for closing the gap is to bring different functions together and establish shared objectives.  Delivered in the right way, compliance can actually enhance the apprentice and employer experience.

  1. Streamline and sharpen operations

Part of the reason compliance can be such an obstacle to customer-centric experiences is that the processes and documentation need improvement.  For instance, current processes requiring the reading of lengthy unengaging compliance scripts or statements during inductions/reviews, or the systematic need to complete low-value documentation, often creating significant frustration that can taint an apprentice’s or employer’s view of the provider or indeed the apprenticeship.

Streamlining, sharpening and enhancing processes, practices and documentation, to more effectively support the process rather than being a focus for that process, can also bring the added benefit of enabling time and resource to be released to focus on more impactful activities.

  1. Confident front-line staff

Having confident front line-staff, those who work with apprentices and employers on a regular basis, is crucial.  By confident, I don’t mean self-confident.  I mean the kind of confident that comes from having a detailed understanding of the relevant apprenticeship standards, the specific knowledge, skills and behaviours to be developed, the end point assessment methods and detailed grading criteria.

I also mean front-line staff who are confident enough to actively listen, to both apprentices and employers.  To ask questions, the right questions.  To understand a lot about each employer and their business.  Staff who are also sufficiently confident to adapt intended training plans to the individual starting points of each apprentice and tailor the sequencing of off-the-job (OTJ) training to align with the employer’s operation.

Combined with more purposeful, apprentice-employer friendly training plans and review documentation, there is real potential for significant performance improvement.

An action plan for improvement

Taking a step back from the action, you may be able to spot the opportunities to refine current practices and develop the tools that will enable your front-line staff to increase their on-the-job effectiveness and deliver greater impact to apprentices and employers.  Opportunities that focus on the outcomes and results you are striving to achieve, rather than the mechanics of the work.

Whilst the scope of apprenticeship compliance may be considered a burden to many providers, it also represents an opportunity to reformulate journeys for the benefit of both your business and the experience of its customers.

Why not take the first step to unlocking the hidden value in your apprenticeship provision today?

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